Wintery Picture Books

Staff Picks

Wintery Picture Books

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

I have a confession: I love snow. Okay, so I prefer to be inside while it's happening, but I love the way snow looks as it descends on the city. Here are some picture books that reflect and showcase the childlike joy snow can bring.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland illustrated by Tim Hopgood

Hopgood does it again! This beautifully illustrated version of the classic song shows a family traipsing through the winter snow, spying animals and sledding. I love Hopgood's beautiful art, and this book is sure to become a classic even for people who didn't already love the song.

Winter is Here by Kevin Henkes

Henkes'  books have always been read-aloud favorites of mine. Simple explanations of what makes winter winter: the snow, all the clothes you need to wear, and the howling wind make this book a good introduction to the season. I love how all of his season books, which include When Spring Comes and In the Middle of Fall, end with an introduction of the season coming next, which teaches the cyclical nature of seasons.

Snow by Uri Shulevitz

This deceptively simple picture book is one of my favorite winter read alouds. Its Caldecott Honor-winning illustrations showcase a town with gray skies that starts with no snow, gains some, and ends covered in it. I enjoy the story about a little boy who knows snow is coming even as the townspeople don't believe him. After all, the story is right: snow doesn't listen to radio predictions or watch television - all it knows is snow, snow, snow.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

This Caldecott winner may have been originally published in 1962, but it feels timeless. Peter wakes up and sees snow outside. The book depicts the things a young child might realistically choose to do on a snowy day: make tracks in the snow, poke snow piles with a stick, try to keep a snowball, and more. The art is simple and compelling.

The Mitten

This Ukrainian folktale has been adapted and illustrated by many authors. The most famous version is probably Jan Brett's, but I'm partial to Alvin Tresselt's old-fashioned looking one, and there's also a charming version by Jim Aylesworth. This story of a child whose lost mitten becomes home to an increasing number of animals searching for warmth is a lot of fun. Older children may enjoy reading multiple versions of the story and cataloging the differences between them. 

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson

Wilson's bear books have become classics in the almost twenty years since they were first published, but this one is still my favorite. This story of a bear whose animal friends throw a party in his lair while he sleeps is full of fun repetition and opportunities to use fun voices when reading. A snoring bear is an excellent opportunity to teach about hibernation and the winter behavior of animals - even if real bears are unlikely to pop corn and drink tea with mice.

There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow! by Lucille Colondro

This play on an old lady who swallowed a fly follows the original nicely, with rhymes than scan well and some very silly swallowing. Children are delighted at the end when it turns out that the objects she ate make a snowman. I love books that can be sung and this is a nice addition for the season.

Wonderful Winter by Bruce Goldstone

This book is perfect for a curious child eager to learn some of the hows and whys of winter. Goldstone's nonfiction title includes facts about what winter is and how it manifests for humans and animals, including describing winter sports and typical foods, but also includes some simple craft activities. Done making snowmen outside? Well great, you can come in and make snowglobes and bird feeders!

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner

 A young girl skis above the snow as her father describes what's going on under the snow: the sleeping frogs, the hungry chipmunks, tunneling voles, and more. There are some animals above the snow, but there's a whole world of animals below. The art in this story has a particularly lovely delicacy, but the content is also great! There's some additional information at the end about the behavior of animals in winter for the interested reader.

The Secret Life of a Snowflake by Kenneth Libbrecht

Unlike the rest of my recommendations, this book isn't a read-aloud, but instead a nonfiction exploration of the science of snow for children. Filled with beautiful up-close photographs, this book is a great fit for a child interested in the "whys" of winter. Taken under a microscope, the photos in the book add light and color to the beautiful of snowflakes.

What's your favorite winter book?